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Old 09-18-04, 03:08 PM   #1
nabdo
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Opninons on Flat handlebars vs. raised

I just ordered some flat handlebars for my mountain bike. I will be racing this season and wanted to streamline a bit. But than I started having nightmares that I would not be able to steer or control my bike as well as I normally do. Can anyone give me their opionon on flat bars? What are the advantages and disadvantages? If anybody rides with a flat bar, could you let me know if it took a while to adjust to them or is it only a slight difference from a raised bar?
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Old 09-18-04, 07:52 PM   #2
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I ride on both flat and raised. I find the width of the bar affects the feel of my bike much more than the rise in the bar. My rise bars only have a 3/4 rise but it is noticable. You should be fine from a control stand point the question is will you have a comfortable cockpit.
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Old 09-18-04, 07:58 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by nabdo
I just ordered some flat handlebars for my mountain bike. I will be racing this season and wanted to streamline a bit. But than I started having nightmares that I would not be able to steer or control my bike as well as I normally do. Can anyone give me their opionon on flat bars? What are the advantages and disadvantages? If anybody rides with a flat bar, could you let me know if it took a while to adjust to them or is it only a slight difference from a raised bar?
My experience has been that rise is a matter of comfort; more upright position. Flat bars seem better to me on climbs. Width of the bar is important, as is the angle. I'd try out a few and see what you prefer. I would describe the diff between flat and raised as much more than 'slight'.

Last edited by Juniper; 09-18-04 at 08:30 PM.
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Old 09-18-04, 08:26 PM   #4
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I feel the steering response and overall handling is a lot better with flats. I personally hate risers (even though I started out on them) and now will ONLY run flats. I found the handling difference to be night and day, but thats me.
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Old 09-18-04, 08:49 PM   #5
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Thanks! When you say width is important, how wide should I keep it? I had my risers sawed down b/c I felt like I was going to hit trees when taking a line through the middle of tight spots. Should I stick with wider flats and not have them sawed back. I'm a chic so my shoulders are not as wide as a guys but I do surf so they are not as small as most girls either. I am sort of in the middle. I aslo like to jump and am not sure if my landings will be as controlled with the flats. I am so torn right now! Maybe I will be better off with two sets of bars.
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Old 09-19-04, 02:39 PM   #6
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I used to ride a flat bar, then switched to raised. Now I am back to the flat. That one inch in height makes a big difference when you need to ride under fallen trees (lots of them on our trails). A lower profile also means more stability, and flat bars automatically make you go a little lower. As far as width, I keep mine at about 21".
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Old 09-19-04, 04:06 PM   #7
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From an old school point of viewÖ as long as experience is not an issue get your rise from your neck and cut your tapered strait bar as short as you can feel comfortable with.
My race bars are 17 1/2Ē thatís 3Ē shorter than my shoulder measurement. And unless Iím lacing redwoods or on the breaks the ends of my bars are in the palm of my hands.
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Old 09-19-04, 05:33 PM   #8
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17.5" Wide?? even 21" Wide. A normal bar is about 24". A wide bar is 26" and the narrowest bar available uncut is 22". I have the 22" bar and it is VERY VERY narrow. I wan't sure I even liked it at 22" it was so narrow how are you riding 4.5" less? Are you guys sure your rulers are calibrated?
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Old 09-19-04, 06:41 PM   #9
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17.5" is just rediculous... theres no way you can climb comfortably with a bar narrower than your shoulders. You need leverage to climb well unless you use the granny gear and spin up everything at 100rpm. I have *very* narrow shoulders and can't ride anything less than 21/22" comfortably. On my SS I'm running an uncut Ritchey/Easton EA70 with stubby bar ends, and to my surprise it still allowed enough leverage for climbing. The addition of the bar ends helped A LOT though, and provides a nice alternative hand position. On climbs I'm usually out on the bar ends rocking the front end back and forth for all I'm worth.
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Old 09-19-04, 09:49 PM   #10
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Before you go "CUT HAPPY" just move your shifters and brake levers and grips inbound to get a feel for what you like. Once you find your "Best fit" then break out the hacksaw (or pipe cutters).

BTW, where in FL?

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Old 09-20-04, 12:27 AM   #11
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Everyone has there own style. While you are wrestling with your bars and steer horns, I am spinning and conserving my energy during the climb keeping pressure at the back wheel for traction. Only on a fire road would you ever find me tossing my bike and then only in a short sprint to beat a close rider to a gate or trail head.

In a fast climb where there is traction, once Iím in my gear I put my hands on either side of the stem and grind it out. Just like on the road .. But it is still a clipped in spin with as much pull on one leg as push with the other. There is no pulling against the bars the way I climb, no bar ends, no thrashing, just legs and lower back and the burn.
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Old 09-20-04, 12:38 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seely
I feel the steering response and overall handling is a lot better with flats.
i very much agree. feels 'quicker' to me. most bikes with risers ive tried felt more 'laggardly'... but now my current SS has bars with a moderate rise and they feel fine. i must admit it does help during climbs, too

but for pure aesthetics and nostalgia im a straight bar kinda guy!
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Old 09-20-04, 01:05 AM   #13
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I use raised bars because I am so tall and I can not find a confortable area unless the bars indeed have some rise to them...
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Old 09-20-04, 07:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WorldWind
Everyone has there own style. While you are wrestling with your bars and steer horns, I am spinning and conserving my energy during the climb keeping pressure at the back wheel for traction. Only on a fire road would you ever find me tossing my bike and then only in a short sprint to beat a close rider to a gate or trail head.

In a fast climb where there is traction, once Iím in my gear I put my hands on either side of the stem and grind it out. Just like on the road .. But it is still a clipped in spin with as much pull on one leg as push with the other. There is no pulling against the bars the way I climb, no bar ends, no thrashing, just legs and lower back and the burn.

Just out of curiousity what kind of trails can you climb with your hands next to the stem? I notice you are in Arizona, so I assume that the climbs are fairly clear of roots, rocks, mud, etc. I think if someone were to try climbing with hands next to the stem up here (Vermont/New Hampshire), they would be tossed in a hurry. It is hard enough with steering leverage.

By the way I run uncut 26" low rise bars, but they are soon to be 25 or 24 inch bars. I am currently trying to dial them in.
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Old 09-20-04, 08:59 AM   #15
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Your point is well taken, but note I qualified my description with ĎIn a fast climb where there is traction.í

Although I live in Az for much of the year, most of my riding is in the Bay area of Ca. There really arenít that many trails in Az. worth riding, and because my house is in Lake Havasu, the ones that are, are farther away than my beloved Mt Tam. The type of riding I was referring to was in response to the contention that you always needed a wide bar to climb. For example out in the Long Ridge area just off of Skyline north of highway 9 the trails are connected by a series of fire roads that connect the different riding areas along the ridge line. These are not the LA type of gravely dust choked fire roads; these are rock free packed soil. Sections of long easy grade that invite riders abreast standing on ther big ring and grinding.

Obviously climbing a root crossed single track is going to be another story all together but still, even in the constant adjusting of cg for traction and loft I am never fighting my front end for wheel angle. In this type of climb I make all my steering adjustments when the weight is on the rear and the front end is unloaded. As you drop your wheel over and beyond the next root and prepare to transfer weight forward your steering angle should already be set for the next revolution of pedals and wheels. In this type of riding just as in down hill carving both hands are full on the grips in position to shift and with a finger on the break levers. If you are fighting your front end in this type of climb then you need to work on better selecting your line.
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Old 09-20-04, 11:27 AM   #16
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I've been riding the riser bar that came stock on my bike (2004 Kona Blast). I had never ridden a riser before, and I must admit that I like the overall cockpit feel, altough sometimes I feel the climbing suffers.

The steering did feel a bit sluggish at first, but I chalked that up to the slack head angle provided by a 100mm fork. Then, I swapped for a shorter stem, and the steering improved a bunch.

Back to the bar...this bar is a tall riser, with over an inch of rise. What I don't like about it is the limited flexibility it provides for placement of shifters and brake levers. My bike came with shifter pods which are separate from the brake levers, which I thought was a good idea in terms of later upgrades (replace piece by piece as necessary). However, the rise in the bar requires the shifter pods to be much further towards the grips than I like. This problem was much worse with bar ends, which I have since removed so that the grips can go all the way to the end, providing some space between grip and shifter.

At some point I will likely switch to a bar with a lot less rise, or a flatty if I can find one with just a bit of 'sweep' to it. I like the sweep provided by the riser, especially without bar ends.
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Old 09-20-04, 01:06 PM   #17
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Depends on the type of riding you do. I used to think flat for speed and risers for control, It's now risers for comfort and Flat for pain in the shoulders and stiff neck, but that can be controlled by exercise. What is important though is width. I have narrow shoulders and the Kona came with 23"wide Flat bars. Perfect for me, and no problems. Tried bringing the controls in to see how narrow I could go, and I could not, Lost controll at 21". Changed to riser bars on the Bianchi, and bought wide at 26" felt wierd, but I am now looking for 26" flat bars on the Kona.
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Old 09-20-04, 05:03 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the info! It looks like the flat bars weren't such a bad idea after all! That makes me feel better! I rode yesterday with my regular bars and am anxiously waiting the arrival of the flats. It sounds like I should keep them at 22"-23?" My lower back always gets sore after riding about 11 miles. Which makes the remaining 5 or so miles painful. I am thinking the upgright position puts more compression on my spine. Hopefully that will be eliminated with the new bars as well! I will keep you updated once I make the change!
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Old 09-20-04, 05:07 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by a2psyklnut
Before you go "CUT HAPPY" just move your shifters and brake levers and grips inbound to get a feel for what you like. Once you find your "Best fit" then break out the hacksaw (or pipe cutters).

BTW, where in FL?

L8R
I'm in Stuart, FL....I told my friends I want to be a little mountain bike "*hore" and ride all the trails I can. We want to head over to the West coast soon. Got any suggestions?
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Old 09-20-04, 06:17 PM   #20
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21" isn't really all that difficult. Then again, my background is in BMX. Even my bike is fairly small. I am 5'11" and my bike is 17". Think about it this way; because of the shorter bars your arms do not need to move as much in tight turns.
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Old 09-20-04, 08:16 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nabdo
I'm in Stuart, FL....I told my friends I want to be a little mountain bike "*hore" and ride all the trails I can. We want to head over to the West coast soon. Got any suggestions?

absolutely! Santos Trail right now is rideable. That's in Bellview just south of Ocala. Reddick is rideable, just North of Ocala. Flatwoods in Tampa is still underwater. Carter Road in Mulberry (just West of Lakeland) still has a lot of water and needs some trail work to get it back in shape. Alafia just Southeast of Brandon (and where I'm heading on Sunday) is rideable. Most of the yellow (easier) trails are still very wet, but a lot of the more challenging stuff has been worked on. I should be there about 9:00 a.m. on Sunday! PM me if you and some friends are coming over, and I'll stick around and be your tour guide.

There is an outside chance I may head up to Santos, but it's an "very outside" chance.

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Old 09-20-04, 08:50 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by a2psyklnut
absolutely! Santos Trail right now is rideable. That's in Bellview just south of Ocala. Reddick is rideable, just North of Ocala. Flatwoods in Tampa is still underwater. Carter Road in Mulberry (just West of Lakeland) still has a lot of water and needs some trail work to get it back in shape. Alafia just Southeast of Brandon (and where I'm heading on Sunday) is rideable. Most of the yellow (easier) trails are still very wet, but a lot of the more challenging stuff has been worked on. I should be there about 9:00 a.m. on Sunday! PM me if you and some friends are coming over, and I'll stick around and be your tour guide.

There is an outside chance I may head up to Santos, but it's an "very outside" chance.

L8R
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I'm racing this weekend but thanks for the invite. I will look you up for a guide when we head over that way! I will also keep you informed if I hit any of the other spots you mentioned!
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Old 09-26-04, 03:03 AM   #23
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I rode flat bars for many years, and have recently made the switch to a riser bar (raceface lowrise). My flat bar was quite wide, especially since I'm a small guy. People would often comment on the width of my flat bar (a ritchey forcelight). Made the switch to a riser after riding a friend's rigid mtb with a riser and I found it really helped with descending. I come from a city that's cut by an escarpment, so all the local trails are on very steep hills, so I'm used to climbing, but I found that descending my rigid mtb with a flat bar was not as solid as riding my friend's rigid with a riser. I'm still getting the bugs worked out on a drivetrain switch, so I haven't offroaded the new setup yet, but I have done some urban riding and I like the change.
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